SPPUA in Action | December 2015
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Dear friends,

2015 has been an extraordinarily successful year for the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. The members of our graduating class have achieved excellent placement in careers of their choice, here in Boston, the nation and around the world. Our faculty have been more productive than ever, publishing books and articles in top-ranked journals of their fields, receiving significant funding for research, attracting the attention of their peers and of practitioner communities alike. Faculty and staff together have created considerable innovation in existing and new degree programs, such as our Masters in Public Administration and Masters in Urban Informatics.  In short, while 2015 was about increasing our impact, it has proven to be pivotal in shaping the School’s legacy.
Looking ahead, we’ll build on our successes and continue to integrate research, education and engagement into a seamless whole. We will further cement our commitment to Boston and the region, while fostering a model of global engagement and knowledge creation that even more effectively connect the world of practice to policy, planning and investment making. We will continue to work across disciplinary boundaries to address the pressing and emerging social, economic and environmental challenges that people in cities face. And we will empower our students to be both thought leaders and change makers.     
Thank you to all who have contributed to the School’s many success stories, and I welcome you to visit us as well as work, learn, and change the world with us. On behalf of the School’s faculty and staff, we wish you the best for the new year.
Matthias Ruth
Director and Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs
2015: The Year in Pictures
2015 in Review
Master of Public Administration

Northeastern University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) has been forming leaders in the public and nonprofit sectors since 1969. But it was re-launched this year and all programmatic activities were streamlined into one academic unit – the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. Read more.
New Degree Programs

The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs faculty and staff have created two innovative programs – MS in Urban Informatics (MSUI) and MA in International Affairs (IAF).
Launched in the spring, MSUI combines comprehensive data analytic skills with an understanding of the big questions 21st Century cities face. The program is built upon a unique cross-college initiative, offering comprehensive state-of-the-art training in core skills of data analytics and how data and technology are being used to tackle key social, infrastructural, and environmental challenges.
IAF, launched in September, is an interdisciplinary graduate program designed to foster a deeper understanding of global and international social, cultural, historic, economic, and political phenomena. It is dedicated to preparing tomorrow’s global citizens while encompassing globalization, transnational social justice, political and economic development, migration, human rights, and diplomacy – among other topics.
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Alumni in the World

The impact of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs continues to grow, as our alumni shape the future of cities around the globe. Here’s a select set of significant contributions our alumni continue to make:

Photo courtesy of Emily Clark.
Jessica Casey, a former research associate at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, was named economic development director of the Plymouth Regional Economic Development Foundation.
“In this role, I help to bridge the gap between business and town government, diversify the tax base and build and retain jobs in the region,” Casey said. “It’s been a busy six months, but we have made a lot of progress. It’s exciting work, at the local level, and Northeastern University could not have prepared me better for the experience.”
Nathan Peyton, MURP ‘13, was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff to Stephanie Pollack, Secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Stephen Donovan graduated this year with a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Policy and he was named a 2015 Fellow of the Kuehn Charitable Foundation.
“I heard about the Kuehn Fellowship opportunity while I was working on my capstone project … and after looking into it, I realized that was really directly aligned with the career trajectory that I was trying to achieve,” Donovan said. “Fortunately, by taking the real estate development course here at the Policy School and by furthering my hands-on development experience through the capstone and competition work, I had turned out to be a decent candidate for the program.”
Heather Hume, who graduated with a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Policy in 2012, was named Mass Transit Top 40 Under 40. The list honors professionals who have made significant contributions to the public transit industry. Hume is the superintendent of workforce/logistic support for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Read more.
Photo courtesy of Salmon Press.
Charles Smith, MPA ’15, was appointed Town Administrator in Sanbornton, N.H., in August after completing a two-month Municipal Managers Association of New Hampshire (MMANH) fellowship this summer.
“Overall, the fellowship gave me a bit of experience working in public management, a chance to network with other town administrators in the state, and be a part of their group, which shares policies, ideas,” Smith said. “I think my hard work during graduate school really helped prepare me.”
Experiential Learning

This summer, MPA student Andrew Bryant spent 10 weeks as a consultant to the Centers Operations Department at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV), a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending homelessness among veterans.

“Andrew Bryant exceeded my every expectation of performance, dedication, and commitment to supporting the New England Center for Homeless Veterans,” said Brian Reeves, vice president of operations and project management at NECHV. “If not for his steadfast work ethic, natural hands-on leadership skills, and his congenial personality we would not have made it through this challenging time of staff turnover.” Read more.

Award-Winning Capstone Project

Last spring, four Northeastern students were challenged to create an innovative and comprehensive development proposal that would address the needs of Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, a local nonprofit whose mission is to build a better, stronger community in Codman Square and South Dorchester. The goal, they said, was to develop a housing plan that could eventually be built at Morton Street Crossing on the Mattapan/Dorchester line.

“It was the hardest I have worked for anything, so to hear our name called at the ceremony was unbelievable,” said Chelsea Biggs, who graduated with a Master of Public Administration in the spring. Read more.

NAPPS – Career, Networking Development

“A lot of us are working fulltime, I think you miss out on that social aspect that you might have with a full-time program so that’s where NAPPS can come in, fill that gap and create more opportunities for students to get to know each other,” said Kathleen Kenney, a part-time MPA student who is graduating this month. “That has been one of the best things about this Masters program – the informal conversations I’ve had with people before and after class and these meetings. People don’t think of that as much, and that’s really valuable." Read more.

Public Engagement

2015 is coming to an end after an incredibly successful semester for the Myra Kraft Open Classroom, a seminar series offered in the fall and spring semesters for students and ordinary citizens alike. Each week, the School invited the public to explore fascinating aspects of public policy through talks by researchers, lawmakers, entrepreneurs, and activists that inspired lively Q&A sessions and gave participants a chance to make their voices heard.
This fall, we traveled in time to the 1960s and discussed politics, sports, media, and the Supreme Court – among other topics. Bambi Good, a regular participant, said the discussion on technology “gave a whole new meaning to how we got to where we are today looking back at the 60s.”

Lives in Law and Public Policy Speaker Series continued this fall and was aimed at current law and public policy students and members of the Northeastern community. Speakers included former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, Political Consultant Michael Goldman, former Massachusetts State Labor Secretary Joanne Goldstein, and Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lesser.
“Students came away inspired by what they heard, and appreciated the wide range of career advice,” said Dan Urman, assistant teaching professor and coordinator of the Undergraduate Minor in Law and Policy program.

While listening to Goldstein, one LPP minor learned that you do not always need a career plan: “It was nice to hear that somebody who didn’t necessarily have any idea what they wanted to do career-wise went on to have such a distinguished and successful career.” Another student considered Goldman “one of the most passionate and engaging speakers I have ever encountered … Goldman widened my perspectives and broadened my views on many topics, and I hope that I get to attend another seminar of his.”
And one student said: "This series inspired me to be more involved with how our politics work domestically and to be more concerned and passionate about politics and policy in general.”
According to Urman, the speaker series will continue in 2016 with Mo Cowan, a Northeastern Law School graduate who served as U.S. Senator in 2013.
“Cowan will offer his perspective on the Democratic and Republican caucuses and primaries,” Urman said. “Cowan has many insights on the races, since they feature several of his former Senate colleagues. We also plan to host current officials from Governor Charlie Baker and President Obama’s administrations. Stay tuned!”
Get to Know

Diego Rodriguez Renovales, MURP Alum, Spring 2012, Head of Design and Architecture, Tecnológico de Monterrey, an educational institution in Mexico with 64 campuses, two hospitals, and 55 offices across the country.

"Besides the internship, the courses I took, my teachers, and my classmates helped me broaden my mind to new urban policy and planning ideas. My projects at Northeastern were interesting and filled with information that is now helping me figure out a way to transform a university system infrastructure and its relation to the city and urban context. In many ways my experience at Northeastern made me fit for this role and gave me tools to do a very good job in proposing smart and sustainable development across Mexico." Read more.
Vaishali Kushwaha, first-year PhD student 
“A PhD was not something all of a sudden; it was in my life plan,” said Kushwaha who worked in three different countries until she realized her passions lie in developing countries and urban sustainability. “I had many detours and I think that is what has defined who I am and what I want to do.” Read more.
Faculty Spotlight: Why take an international approach to environmental health?

By taking an international approach, experts can combine information on climate change, biological responses and their direct impact on society, and report these findings, says Brian Helmuth, professor of environmental science and public policy.
Helmuth is a marine biologist by training who moved gradually into the public policy space. He is a strong proponent of international collaborations—and for leaving the comfort of an office in favor of getting out on-site to measure biological variables in the natural environment. The two come together in INSHORE (International Network for the Study of Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems), a new international network of scientists he recently co-founded through Northeastern’s Marine Science Center. Read more.
Meet our Advisory Committee

Robert Fishman joined the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs Advisory Committee about four years ago where he reviews the School’s initiatives, and provides suggestions such as creating a report card on Boston tunnels and MBTA stations’ resilience in the event of flooding.
But what he enjoys the most is having informal meetings every six months with ambitious students who have benefited from the Fishman Fellowship, which financially supports a student who is completing an unpaid internship as part of their degree requirements.

“My wife and I enjoy being a part of the School and helping the next generation of leaders coming along,” said Fishman, a senior partner in the Real Estate and Finance Department at Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP. Read more.
Guest Column: Living abroad

By Samantha Levy, student in the Urban and Regional Policy program graduating in May 2016
   Sam Levy, right, with MURP student Lauren Costello.

Greetings from Amsterdam! I was thrilled to be given the chance to share a little bit about my experience here in Amsterdam with you but feeling totally overwhelmed by how I would go about that in 600-800 words. Living and studying abroad is completely transformative, whether or not you realize it’s happening. Being forced out of your comfort zone and learning to navigate a new place, possibly a new language, is a shock to the system. Read more.
Alumni News

Northeastern alumna, Anna Butler, founded Modzi, a nonprofit that brings educational opportunities to at-risk children in Zambia, after a Human Services Dialogue of Civilizations in 2013.

I loved the hands-​​on expe­ri­ence, and I could feel the impact I was making,” Butler said of her work on the Dia­logue. “The longer I was there, the more I real­ized the impor­tance of removing a child from vul­ner­able situations.”

She added: “I won­dered how we could not only reha­bil­i­tate a child but rein­te­grate that child into society, ulti­mately helping them to become a change-​​maker in their com­mu­nity. I saw a need, and though some of these chil­dren were being helped, I could see there was so much more potential.” Read more.

Faculty Focus

Congratulations to faculty affiliates David Fannon and Matt Eckelman as well as Michelle Laboy, assistant professor at Northeastern’s School of Architecture, for their new 2015 AIA Upjohn Research Initiative Grant from the American Institute of Architects.
Through this grant, entitled “Building Resilience: A Tool for Planning & Decision-making,” they will develop a software system for monitoring energy use in building structures, enabling decision making related to sustainable building design.

Brian Helmuth, professor of environmental science and public policy, was recently sworn in as a member of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board, a congressionally-mandated Federal Advisory Committee appointed by the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and the Atmosphere.

“In a nutshell, Seagrant is an arm of NOAA that works closely with stakeholders in coastal zones and in collaboration with U.S. universities to use scientific understanding of the coasts to create economically and ecologically resilient communities,” Helmuth said. “It therefore connects extremely well to the Urban Coastal Sustainability Initiative here at NU.” Read more.
In the Media

The faculty and staff at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs continue to be reliable sources of expertise on current pressing issues. Click here for a list of articles during the month of November that reference our knowledgeable staff and their research.
Upcoming Events

The Myra Kraft Open Classroom, a free semester-long seminar series for graduate students and ordinary citizens alike, is well underway. This fall, the course is entirely devoted to closely examining the extraordinary transformative decade of the 1960s, from the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 to landing on the moon in 1969. Together with invited experts, we explore the politics, economics and social movements of the decade, celebrate music, art, media, and film, and we draw connections to the many transformations underway today.
Classes are held on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. in West Village F, room 20. Visit our website for the course schedule, directions and materials from past sessions. We’re live streaming every session on our YouTube channel. Tell us what you think by using #OCNEU and #SPPUA on social media sites.

On Monday, Dec. 7, the BU Initiative on Cities is co-hosting a one-day conference, Transportation Nudges: Experiments in Improving Urban Mobility.

Together with the BU Hariri Institute for Computing and the City of Boston’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, the conference will examine innovative strategies cities are using to change transportation behaviors, both to mitigate congestion and improve safety. There will be a poster session during lunch featuring research related to transportation behaviors, congestion mitigation, parking pricing, urban planning and design, ride sharing, tactical urbanism, related technological interventions and improving urban mobility. For more information, call 617-358-8086.

The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs is co-sponsoring "An Evening with Charles Montgomery" on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m., Curry Ballroom. The event will feature a lecture by award-winning author and urbanist Charles Montgomery on the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness, which incorporates many different disciplines, followed by a book signing. Free to Northeastern student. Visit myNEU for tickets.
SPPUA Detective — Do you know where this is?
If you know the answer, send your name and location of the subject in the photo to Your name will appear in the forthcoming newsletter! Last month’s photo was of Professor Woody Kay’s office. The winner was Professor Christopher Bosso.

Do you have what it takes to become a detective and stump the SPPUA community? We are looking for mystery photo submissions for the SPPUA Detective series. Email your mystery photos to Be sure to include the location of the image in the photograph.

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